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Boxer Proposes Federal Standards for Polling Places

Sen. Barbara Boxer on Wednesday became the latest lawmaker to introduce election reform legislation, proposing a plan aimed at shortening the long lines that greeted voters on Election Day.

The California Democrat would require the attorney general to work with the federal Election Assistance Commission to require states such as Florida, Ohio and Virginia — where voters waited more than 90 minutes to cast a ballot during the 2012 elections — to comply with a program to remedy such delays in the future. The attorney general and the commission would also develop national standards related to voting machines, election works and other necessary resources.

“It is unacceptable that many Americans had to wait in line for five, six or seven hours to cast their ballots,” Boxer said in a release. “The LINE Act will help ensure that every American has an equal chance to vote without enduring hours-long delays at their polling places.”

Boxer’s bill comes on the heels of a letter she sent last month to Republican congressional leaders that urged them to recommend Election Assistance Commission nominees after the panel sat without a single commissioner, executive director or general counsel during the elections. Boxer cited a CQ Roll Call report that the commission’s lack of Senate-confirmed leaders had undermined its mission.

“I believe the dysfunction we witnessed may have been reduced had this commission been fully staffed and operational,” Boxer wrote in the letter.

Also last month, Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., introduced election-related legislation that would establish a competitive grant program within the Justice Department that would provide states with incentives to improve their voting processes. Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., quickly signed on as a co-sponsor of that proposal.

In the House, Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., unveiled a proposed bill last month that would require states to have early voting periods of at least 15 days to reduce waiting times at the polls.

It is not yet clear whether any of the proposals could gain significant Republican support.

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